8 Toughest Interview Questions

Tell me about yourself.

This question is difficult to answer because it is so broad. The important thing to know is that the interviewer does not want to know about your hometown or what you do on the weekends. He or she is trying to figure you out professionally. Pick a couple of points about yourself, your professional experience and your career goals. This is your “30-second commercial” message about yourself. Wrap up your answer by discussing your desire to join the company.

What makes you unique?

This question requires that you “toot your own horn,” which is difficult for many people. The trick is coming up with positive characteristics that relate to the job, but ones that not everyone uses. Stay away from “I am hardworking and enthusiastic.” Give the interviewer specific examples of what you have done. For example: “It is my experience that makes me uniquely qualified for this position. I managed a team of six salespeople, and did so while maintaining my own vigorous sales schedule. Thus, I have had the unique opportunity to be on both the management side and the frontline sales side of the business, and have learned from both perspectives.”

What interests you the most about this position? What interests you the least?

There are two tricks for this question. First, you need to know enough about the company and position to be able to tell the interviewer what interests you the most. For the second part, steer clear of negativity. Try to downplay this part of the question as much as possible. For example, “My passion is for getting out in the field and selling, but I also understand the importance of administrative tasks and will remain equally committed to those duties I have inside the office.”

What did you like most about your last job? What did you like least?

While the first part of this question does not initially seem hard, you want to be careful what you pick as your favorite part of your last job. Try to talk about aspects of your experience that will help you in your new position. For the second part of the question, you need to be careful about sounding too negative. Even if you truly hated your previous job, put a positive spin on the negatives.

Why did you leave (or are you leaving) your last job?

Regardless of why you left, the main goal is to stay positive. You never want to say negative things about a past employer. If you were fired, be honest but quick. Stick to the facts and demonstrate how you learned from the experience and how it will help you in your next position. If you were laid off, simply state the facts. If you quit, be positive about the company. Tell the interviewer it was time for you to move on and you were looking for a new experience and something that was more challenging.

Why do you want this job? or Why do you want to work for us?

You need to demonstrate that you have researched the company before the interview and give concrete examples of why you want the job. For example, “I have read many positive reviews about the company’s strength in the marketplace and know that the products I will be selling perform well and are good value. In addition, I have been very impressed with the overall philosophy of the company and its growth strategy and I’m interested in growing along with it.”

What would you do if your boss asked you to do something you felt was unethical?

Like many “what if” questions, this one is designed to find out how you handle sticky situations. You want to be able to demonstrate that you are able to think through difficult situations and handle them with grace. Let the interviewer know that you would talk to your boss about your concerns, see if there was another side to the issue that you hadn’t thought of and try to solve the problem together.

What are your salary expectations?

This is one of the hardest questions, particularly for those with little experience. Steer clear of discussing salary specifics before receiving a job offer. Let the interviewer know that you will be open to discussing fair compensation when the time comes. If pressed for a more specific answer, always give a range instead of a specific number.